Lahore Kebab House is a no-frills restaurant that puts all its energy into cooking great Pakistani cuisine.
You could easily miss Lahore walking or driving down Commercial Road but don’t be tempted to walk on to nearby Brick Lane. Take the side road into Umberston Street and you won’t be disappointed. The outside is glass fronted and was done up a couple of years ago though is still not much to look at. As you walk in you will go past the kitchen full to bursting with busy chefs tending to huge pots of curries. It is a large restaurant set over two floors that seats about 350 people.
Lahore was originally opened about 40 years ago and has enjoyed a steady stream of regulars ever since. The decor is unspectacular; wipe clean tables, white walls and flat screen TVs playing Bollywood hits.
Lahore is always busy no matter what time of day or night you visit. The clientele are a huge ethnic mix. You will find yourself sat amongst Pakistanis, Indians, Chinese, Africans, and Caucasians. There are large family groups, couples and depending on what time of day you come you might find yourself amongst City suits. The staff are friendly but don’t expect any explanation of the menu, unless of course you ask for it. It is a fairly noisy restaurant but has a very relaxed vibe.
People come to Lahore for the food. This was the original Lahore restaurant and it is still the best. You will be given a complementary plate of onion, tomato, cucumber and lettuce salad when you arrive and a bowl of mint sauce. The sauce is great and has a little kick so you may want to start your meal with a bit of salad and order a roti to mop up the mint sauce.
The lamb chops are a must. Marinated, succulent, beaten thin and so juicy you’ll be licking your lips for ages afterwards. A starter portion of 5 chops would be enough for two and is £7.50. The chicken tikka is great as well; tender, juicy pieces of chicken with just the right amount of spice that taste great on their own or with a roti, naan or paratha. Starter portions average at about £3 with the most expensive being the tandoori prawns at £9.50.
Vegetarians are much better catered for on the mains menu but you could have some vegetable samosas to start. The pastry is crispy and light and the potato and peas stuffing is nicely spiced with garam masala. The main courses are a good mix of vegetarian, meat and fish curries. The chicken curry on the bone is delicious - look out for it on the menu under Lahore Kebab House Specials. Meat cooked on the bone is always best as it brings out the flavours of the meat brilliantly. The dish arrives in a Karahi bowl and has a rich, tomato sauce accompanying it. If you leave it to the chefs it will come medium hot but you can request the heat level you like.
Of the breads available, the roti is probably the best. Served fresh, warm and wafer-thin, you can rip pieces off, dip it in the curry sauce and get stuck in. It really is the best way to get the most of the flavours. The pilau rice is good too, light and fragrant with just the right mix of pepper corns, cardamom seeds and cinnamon. The biriyani is also excellent. The chicken has been marinated for just the right amount of time and it’s got a nice mix of chilli, cumin and cardamom.
The only dish on the menu that may be best avoided is the lamb shank curry (Nehari). It’s very rich and tastes more like mutton than lamb. The large amount of ghee they add doesn’t help either. Main courses are £7.50 and portions are fairly generous.
The traditional Indian desserts available are mostly deep fried and very rich. Ras Malai, sugary dumplings made from cottage cheese and soaked in sweetened, creamy milk, are good but heavy. For a lighter dessert try the mango, pistachio or Malai (cream) Lahori Kulfi.
Lahore don’t serve alcohol but you can BYO from one of the shops on the corner. If you want something non-alcoholic the best option is to go for a mango lassi or a salted lassi, if you prefer something savoury with your meal.
The Last Word
Lahore is not much to look at from the outside but well worth a visit. Pick the right dishes off the menu and you won’t be disappointed. It puts the nearby Brick Lane curry houses to shame.